To the north of the city of Orlando is Sanford, Florida, the location where the source story for our blog post occurred. A 16-year-old high school student was arrested on felony drug distribution charges after he sold a “weed gummy” to a girl at his school. The girl started feeling sick after she had the gummy, which prompted the school to look into the situation and, eventually the police as well. That led to the 16-year-old’s arrest and the decision to press charges against him.
This is a topic that needs to be discussed. Young people are going to make mistakes, especially young people who aren’t even 18 yet. They are going to be rebellious, and they are going to be curious. They are going to do things that their parents tell them to avoid, and they are going to experiment in ways we may not want them to — but it is inherent to the maturation process.
When these things involve drugs, the question we need to ask ourselves now is: should they be punished as harshly as possible? By doing so, we effectively ruin their futures before they even begin. If this 16-year-old is convicted on the felony count, his criminal record will follow him for years, making it very difficult for him to develop into the person he wants to become.
At the same time, these offenses can’t just be let go with no punishment at all. What we are saying is that there has to be middle ground to the drug wars, especially when it comes to teenagers. Using the full force of the law to punish kids for being kids seems antithetical to the point of teaching people and helping them learn from their mistakes.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “16-year-old charged with felony after selling classmate pot candy, police say,” Caitlin Doornbos, Dec. 15, 2016